This video illustrates the making of a Beretta SO, one of the world’s best known fine shotguns. It’s a romanticized representation, of course. Woodsmen don’t use axes to cut down walnut trees for stock blanks, for instance. And, I have been to the Beretta factory. It’s clean, but it’s not laboratory clean as you see here.

What’s interesting to me about the video is that Beretta doesn’t shy away from representing the truth about how its fine guns are made: they, along with many other fine gunmakers even including such old names as Purdey, use sophisticated machines to do much of the milling of metal parts (I wouldn’t doubt some of the stock shaping is done by machine, too), because machines can do the work better, cheaper, faster and more precisely than human hands can.

Skilled workers still fit and finish the guns by hand, as you see here, but very few guns in the world today are totally handmade. The upside is, an SO starts around $60,000, and it would cost much, much more if it were made the old-fashioned way.